In 1973, Roberta Flack won the first American Music Award.
Take a look at the 2006 nominees, and you'll find one genre surprisingly missing.
While the female Soul/R&B category remains strong, I took notice that the "female hip hop/rap artist" category has been eliminated. Less than five artists qualified for this category in 2006.
In 2003, Missy Elliott, Eve, and Lil' Kim were nominated in the category. Missy Elliot won. In 2004, no ladies were nominated. In 2005, Missy Elliott, Lil' Kim, and Trina were nominated. Missy Elliott won.
There are lots of reasons why the AMA female hip hop/rap category is not a part of the ceremony this year.
The versatile women who have dominated the AMA soul/R&B category in recent years: Alicia Keys, Beyonce', Janet Jackson, and Mariah Carey, all incorporate important elements of hip hop into their repertoire.
Fewer ladies currently enjoying commercial success focus exclusively on hip hop for their music careers.
Record buyers, legal digital downloaders, and music file sharers also have an impact on the AMA categories because...
Dick Clark created the American Music Awards strictly as a popularity contest among music fans. 20,000 record buyers vote each year for their favorite personal artists.
If smaller niche music genres are less represented in the 20,000 yearly sample, a more democratic selection process of winners emerges.
Remember, the AMA is a populist alternative to the Grammy Awards.
So where are the "hip hop ladies?" We had Sugar Hill's Sequence and Salt-N-Pepa in the 80's, TLC in the 90's, and I'd include Destiny's Child in the early 2000's, as dominant stand-outs.
Today, groups like Floetry mix lots of different contemporary elements to offer broad appeal beyond strictly hip hop.
As the music industry continues to change, I wonder if the AMA "female hip hop/rap" category will be permanently discontinued, or will it be able to make a comeback in 2007?
Discover more about The American Music Awards and the history of the television production, scheduled to be presented this Fall on November 21 as a three hour ABC special event.